• Learning and Development

Unlocking Accessibility: Key Takeaways from Our On-Demand Webinar

In today’s quest for enhanced educational inclusivity, understanding the diverse needs of the student population is crucial. A notable 19% of all undergraduate students report a learning disability, spotlighting a significant need for additional support.

Is your institution leveraging technology to cater to these accessibility needs effectively?

In our recent webinar, we explored the importance of accessibility with Michael Espey, a Senior Instructional Technology Consultant from the University of Iowa, who has vast experience in leveraging technology to enhance accessibility at a bustling campus of over 30,000 students.

Here are some pivotal learnings from the discussion with Michael:

1. Listening to Students: 

The University of Iowa has observed a trend among its students with learning disabilities: a marked preference for the swiftness of ASR (Automated Speech Recognition) technology for captions despite the higher accuracy of manually edited captions. The university has efficiently integrated such accommodations using tools like Panopto for closed captioning.

This pivot towards ASR underscores a more extensive narrative within the realm of EdTech: the importance of aligning technological solutions with students’ actual, lived experiences and expectations.

2. Faculty-level Implementations:

A one-size-fits-all strategy often misses the mark. Michael Espey highlighted the effectiveness of applying the Universal Design for Learning (UDL) framework at a granular level, customizing it for individual courses and faculty rather than imposing a broad campus-wide mandate. This approach, celebrated for its flexibility and sustainability, is successfully meeting the diverse accessibility needs of a large student population. It allows for tailored educational experiences across the University of Iowa’s expansive 30,000-student campus, ensuring that each classroom, student, and department benefits from a model that genuinely accommodates unique learning requirements.

3. Tiering Campus Learning Priorities:

A critical insight from Michael’s experience at Iowa is the institution’s strategic approach to categorizing learning and technology needs. By tiering these into core, common, or unique segments, the university has crafted a decision-making framework that aligns closely with the varying degrees of need and impact across the campus. This structured approach leads to a more efficient allocation of resources — one in which each educational priority receives the appropriate level of attention and investment.

These highlights only touch the surface of the rich insights shared during the webinar. We invite you to watch the webinar on-demand for a deeper dive into the discussion.

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